Lately I’ve been writing about soft plastic squire techniques for our shallow bay reefs, and also shallow water hard-bodied luring for bream. My main focus has been on the southern parts and middle of Moreton Bay, which has prompted requests from northside anglers wanting info on productive spots and techniques in their waters. In response to these requests, I’ve decided to do a write-up on a great area on the northern side of the bay: the famous Pumicestone Passage.
The southern end of Pumicestone Passage is similar to the mouth of the Brisbane River in that it’s a great place to target squire and bream. The Passage is a bit more natural in many places than the Brisbane River mouth, so the common question on many anglers’ minds is this: will the same squire and bream techniques work in the Pumicestone Passage?
Well, with some time on my hands recently and very strong winds from the east restricting my options, I decided it was the perfect time to find out.
I’ve fished the Bribie Passage (as it can be locally known) on and off for about 20 years, and I have some contacts who fish there regularly including local angler Trevor Foote. Trevor has been employing some of the techniques I use to good effect in his backyard waters, and after a trip with Trevor, plus some excursions with other fishing buddies, I can report that each trip produced a feed. And, just like the locals had said, the southern bay techniques – sometimes with variations – were effective.
Different styles of plastics affected the results we had on the Pumicestone squire. This probably stemmed from the local Bribie stores not being well stocked with the wide range of soft plastics that are popular in Brisbane stores. For this reason, the local anglers commonly use their bass lures.
As well as the bass plastics, the most productive squire lure amongst the local teenagers around Bribie was the skinny Slider 3” flat-tail worm. Trevor Foote won a pack of them at a Stessl Bass series and gave them a try in the Passage, and after a hot fishing session they became a favourite. Subsequent sessions were further proof, including success on 4” versions of the same worm.
Also productive are flat crawfish soft plastics, whose effectiveness was discovered by another local who felt like trying something out of the ordinary. He thought they looked a bit like a saltwater yabby, and with one claw dipped in scent they too became a local success story.
These two soft plastics work well Texas rigged with an Ultra Steel 1/16oz bullet sinker, and also on light Nitro jigheads.
The bream surface lure story is the same here as in other locations – 55-70mm double hooked poppers and shallow running wakebaits with size 10 or 12 trebles have been taking the prisoners.
The use of a good quality garlic, aniseed or crawfish spray on all your lures, hard-bodied or soft plastic, seems to keep the fish biting for longer, and more aggressively too.
The pylons of the bridge are all worth dropping a lure down beside. While working around the bridge, keep an eye on the sounder. Any rubble on the bottom or even any bumps along the river bed are worth swimming a soft plastic lure around for squire.
This has been the gun spot forever, and it still is. The ledge is the first drop-off out from the beaches along the inside of Bribie Island, and it’s very steep. Prime spots along the ledge for squire are those locations where the drop-offs are deepest and where baitfish congregate.
The Ningi Creek mouth encompasses a lot of structure that is submerged at high tide, yet exposed at low tide. Much of it randomly holds a few fish. Check it out at low tide and be the first to cast a lure to it on each flooding tide. If your approach has been stealthy, you’re in with a good chance of being rewarded with a feed of sometimes good-sized bream.
The Avon wreck is one of the Passage’s most famous structures. The Avon’s frame rests up against a manmade fish trap that consists of a wall of rocks. Combined, they are a productive spot for both shallow running and surface lures for bream as the incoming tide washes water over the obstacle.
Just like anywhere around Australia there are bream in the canals around the southern parts of the Bribie Passage. Be polite and respect the wishes of the home owners (who may ask you to move on) and you can have a very enjoyable ‘out of the wind’ fishing session.
The southwestern side of the Bribie Bridge around as far as Sandstone Point is another location that has bits and pieces of very good structure. If you are looking for Sandstone Point on a map, use either a street directory or marine chart. From memory, some other commonly used references are wrong, very wrong.
Just south of the mainland, Cooks Rocks is a well-known and productive spot. In ancient folklore (before I was born) the vicinity was a well promoted snapper hotspot, and I’ve caught a variety of bread and butter species there over the years, plus sharks and giant toadfish. About 15 years ago I recall a run of kingfish there, and with yellowtail kings coming back into the bay it’s possible it will happen again. The region from Cooks across to the beacon and over to Gilligan’s Island is also a good paddock for tailor on poppers and jerkbaits (see QFM August 2005).
The rocky groynes out from each side of the mouth of Spinnaker Sound are worth a cast on your way past if there hasn’t been any boat traffic. The marina is home to large numbers of bream and a few cruise out to the mouth from time to time. If you get to them first before they’ve been spooked for the day there’ll often be at least one overconfident bream that will want to beat its mates to your lure.
WHAT’S IN A NAME?
Most locals call this waterway the Bribie Passage. However, it has officially been referred to by at least four other names that I’ve come across in my readings. Firstly, it appears that Matthew Flinders first named it the Pumice Stone River in 1799. Then, in 1822, explorer John Bingle deduced that the waterway was open at both ends (Bribie and Caloundra) and referred to it as the Pumicestone Channel.
These days maps and the like call it the Pumicestone Passage, but recently I’ve read Queensland Government Department legislation that refers to it as Pumicestone Strait.
1. A squire caught on a Texas-rigged ‘brass and glass’ 4” Slider worm. The ‘brass and glass’ refers to the use of a sliding bullet weight and a faceted red glass bead. The lure sinks slower than the weight as the weight slides down the line, so you get a slow freefall action without sacrificing casting weight.
2. Prospecting around at low tide shows you some likely structure and locations to fish at high tide. This shot shows one of the passage’s most famous structures, the wreck of the Avon, which rests up against a rockwall.
3. Oyster-encrusted rock bommies and tangles of mangroves roots that submerge at high tide are worth a cast or two for bream as the water rises. This spot is at the mouth of Ningi Creek.
4. Bribie bream can be taken on shallow running fat crankbaits and big 70mm poppers as well.